Drone being operated in a beach at sunset

Cornwall tests lifesaving drone service

Image credit: Shutterstock

The emergency response drone pilot rescue service can locate and observe people in the sea and send messages via a loudspeaker.

The drone service is is being tested at Crantock Beach in Newquay, Cornwall, as part of an operational lifeguard service. 

The trial is being carried out by the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) and the RNLI, with drones developed by Eagle Eye Innovations (EEI). 

The drones, manufactured by Swell Pro, are waterproof and capable of improving observation of people in the water, broadcasting pre-recorded and live messages via a Tannoy system, and have the potential to deploy lifesaving equipment such as inflatable buoys. 

“The River Gannel that runs through the middle of Crantock Beach makes access across the broad expanse of beach and to the water’s edge difficult for our patrol vehicles,” said Peter Dawes, RNLI lifeguard operations manager. 

“The drone will allow the lifeguards to undertake rapid observations across a wide area, and the integrated speaker system allows the lifeguards to help inform and give proactive safety advice to the public.”

Robert Gofton, CEO at RLSS UK, added: “We are excited to see how this trial develops drones becoming a piece of equipment to support the lifeguards of the future.

“Drones have been around for a while, and we are constantly looking for ways to use their capabilities in helping to keep people safe on our very busy beaches.” 

Tim Mitchell, head of academy for EEI, said: “As one of the UK’s leading drone training organisations, it was a natural fit to build a training programme with RLSS UK, which is the leader in beach lifeguard training.

“Working with the RNLI will give a real opportunity to see how the capabilities of the drone can help meet the RNLI’s mission of saving lives at sea.” 

Rescue services have increasingly relied on drones to improve their operations. In July, US lifeguards revealed they had begun to use drones to monitor the ocean off the coast of New York’s Long Island after five people were bitten by sharks

Earlier this week, Royal Mail announced a permanent drone delivery service for the remote Orkney Islands, which lie off the north coast of Scotland.

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